Building Working Relationships – Part 1: How to Have Difficult Conversations
There are times when a difficult conversation at work is necessary but how do you have an effective discussion and not create conflict?
So, there it is, your whole life laid out neatly on a few pages of A4. Your CV, Curriculum Vitae, Resume - whatever you prefer to call it - you send it off to a prospective employer but what will make it stand out from the pile? How do you create a document that is compelling to the reader, which conveys everything you want them to know about you and your career in a succinct, eye catching and professional way?
Although there is the obvious temptation to highlight your whole CV in multicolours in an effort to stand out from the crowd, using unusual fonts or brightly coloured headings and borders isn’t necessarily the way to grab an employer’s attention if you want to be taken seriously. It can often be seen as unprofessional and gimmicky and land you in the ‘no’ pile.
A better way to attract a recruiter’s interest is to use keywords and phrases that show you are the right person for the job. The easiest way to achieve this is to do your research on the types of roles you are applying for. Use the job descriptions to find out what the vital skills are and then highlight any matching skills and knowledge you possess and incorporate those into the content of your CV.
One of the most important elements of a well-constructed CV is that it will be interesting to read because the energy and excitement of the applicant should shine through. This can be achieved in two main ways:
1. Honesty: The more aligned a person is with what they really want deep down, the more effectively you can communicate this in your information. A CV, or indeed any piece of writing which is written from the heart, can come across much more effectively as it stems from strengths based on what is energising you in addition to just your‘dry’ knowledge and abilities. This energy will be conveyed to the reader as passion for the industry or roles you have worked in and what you have studied.
2. Achievements: A common mistake people make on their CVs is listing a set of duties taken straight from a job description. Although, as mentioned above, it is vital to find out the key skills from a job description, just listing off a set of duties is not likely to make for interesting reading and more importantly, says little about what you personally will bring to the role and shows nothing of how you will benefit your potential employer. To differentiate yourself and make an impression, it is far more useful to take the key skills and define them in terms of your achievements.
For example, a job description might say you need ‘knowledge of SEO’ – if you have experience in that area, you could just put:
‘I have knowledge and experience of SEO’
which tells the reader nothing about yourself or your ability to improve their SEO. A better piece of information for your CV would be:
‘I increased web traffic to my previous employer’s website by 54% through successful SEO strategies’.
This shows that you can benefit your reader by proving you have ability, turning your CV from a list of data into a compelling read.
To achieve both of these key points successfully, it is necessary to have a high level of self-awareness. This can include, identifying your skills if you are looking to develop your career within your industry or defining how your skills and knowledge can be transferred to a new role if you are looking for a career change. You also need to be confident in your strengths and be able to own your successes, being aware of any personal barriers to this such as the effects of imposter syndrome.
Ideally your CV should be 2-3 pages long but this can vary depending on your level of seniority and amount of relevant experience to the role you are applying for. If you are unsure, it might be worth contacting a CV writing specialist who would be able to confirm what will be right for you.
Try not to clutter your CV with unnecessary information. Takeout personal details which your employer doesn’t need to know e.g. if you are married or have children, as these are not things which recruiters are allowed to use to make decisions on who they employ anyway so will be irrelevant and just takes up space. You also don’t need large amounts of information about hobbies or weekend jobs you had while you were at school unless they are related to the role.
Additionally, avoid wasting space with meaningless statements about your soft skills e.g. ‘I’m a good listener’ as these are both overused and impossible to quantify i.e., you are a good listener compared to who and by what scale?
If you have a gap on your CV it’s best to be honest and explain why. If you were made redundant or took time off for childcare then it’s ok to say so as this shows that you are truthful and doesn’t leave unexplained breaks open to interpretation by recruiters who may make unfair assumptions about why you didn’t work for a period of time. Where possible also mention any training or voluntary work you did during this time too as this shows that while you were off, you still placed importance on your career. This could also include any self-improvement initiatives such as career coaching. If you are unsure of how to explain a gap which arose from a more complex or unusual situation, it would be best to speak to a CV professional who can help you with the best wat to present this.
If you are looking to improve your CV and need help to identify your strengths and skills, contact Careers in Depth today. We have expert career coaches and CV writers who can help you to unlock your potential and move your career in the desired direction.
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